David Plotkin, Founder of employment law and HR consultancy firm, Plotkin & Chandler, discusses the importance of both data and insights to bring about positive change.
Due to advances in technology, organisations can potentially access a vast amount of information swiftly without need to have technical knowledge in order to use the system. These developments have meant that the use of such tools, to understand what is happening within an organisation, has become increasingly mainstream.
People may know that it is common for the websites that they access at work to be monitored by employers. However, technology has made other forms of employee tracking possible. For instance, just as we use apps to locate our phone, similar technology could be used to track where we are and when. Similarly, it is possible for employers to find out not just how much we are typing but also when and exactly what it is. Whilst such actions seem shocking it is likely to be permissible as long as people are notified of what is happening.
An organisation has numerous choices to make in terms of what information it wishes to capture and how it wishes to achieve that. The central question here is not ‘what data can be captured’ but rather ‘what information will help to reveal what is happening within the organisation’ and, as importantly, ‘what will be done with that data in order to make a positive change?’ For example, it is common for organisations to instinctively want to track as many things as possible, without asking why that information is needed and how it contributes to organisational goals. In such a situation, organisations are likely to be using technology to ask the wrong questions and therefore the information or insights that are captured are likely to be of limited value.
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Similarly, even if thought has been put into capturing the right data, what will be done with it going forward? For example, if the data reveals that an individual is not achieving the required targets what will happen now? Will steps be taken to get things back on track such as training? Will managers be given support to help identify warning signs and stop matters from escalating?
Technology provides numerous opportunities for organisations, but those opportunities will be lost unless those insights are used to inform next steps. Organisations should use data in a holistic way which enables issues to be tackled, and improvements to be made, rather than a focus on individual statistics without considering the situation as a whole.
Data has the potential to be invaluable. Whether it is or not ultimately depends on the culture of the organisation, its values, and the outlook of those who decide what should be done with it. Organisations that embrace such insights as a useful tool to bring about positive and lasting change are likely to outperform competitors due to an ethos of continual improvement.
Plotkin & Chandler is an employment law and HR consultancy firm. We provide training and consultancy to help organisations to use data to bring about positive change and continuous improvement.